Alex Anzalone gets to the heart of the Lions in excellent Players' Tribune piece

In an excellent piece for The Players' Tribune, Detroit Lions linebacker Alex Anzalone gets right to the heart of what makes the team special.
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In the wake of the NFC Championship Game loss to the San Francisco 49ers, "unfinished business" has been the common refrain from Detroit Lions' players. Linebacker and team captain Alex Anzalone, who played through cracked ribs and a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during the playoffs, exemplified the "grit" mentality Dan Campbell professes.

In an excellent piece posted on The Players' Tribune Tuesday morning, Anzalone started with a defense of Campbell's fourth down decisions against the 49ers.

"We were all behind Dan on the 4th down call. Let’s get that out of the way first. If you could rewind time, we’d all do it again. A hundred times out of a hundred. The offense. The defense. Everybody. If you have been following this team’s journey for the last three years, then you know how we play football. You know the mentality that got us here."....

"I feel like if you shy away from your identity in that moment, then you’re betraying the very thing that got you there."

"On 4th down, in that situation, we’re always going for the kill. That mentality took us from 0–10–1 to the NFC Championship game in just a few seasons. Honestly, if anything, when we decided to kick the field goal in the first half, I was more surprised then."

Hallelujah. Campbell's fourth down aggressiveness tipped the scales toward the Lions on a regular basis all season. This time, albeit in the biggest game of the season, it didn't work out and the hindsight analysis based on the result is too easy.

Alex Anzalone hits right to the heart of the Lions in poignant piece

Anzalone goes through the highs and lows of his three years in Detroit, and the role his young son played in helping him to reset and re-center after the loss to the 49ers.

Anzalone ended with a story about his exit interview with Campbell. The Lions' head coach apparently asked every player if they were going to watch the Super Bowl.

"So, to all the Lions fans out there…. Before I go … I have a final question for you….
"Are you going to watch it on Sunday? "

It’s funny…. When we had our exit meetings with Dan the other day, he actually asked the same thing. I didn’t know how to answer. I honestly hadn’t even thought about it yet, and it kind of made me sick thinking about going to some Super Bowl party and standing around like an idiot, trying to pretend to be happy. 

"But Dan said, “No, you gotta watch it, man. Use every second of it as motivation. I’ll sure as hell be watching.” 

Anzalone added the imagery he envisions of Campbell sitting in a dark room watching the Super Bowl, coffee in hand, staring daggers at the tv, counting down the milliseconds until training camp...

Before signing off, Anzalone left Lions' fans with a concise message.

"This year, it sucks."
"Next year, it’s us."

Check out Anzalone's entire piece The Players' Tribune here.


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